ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Adjusting to life during a pandemic has been challenging for everyone. Even the youngest members of society have been forced to adapt.
"Their routines right now are really disrupted. Everything is a little different, everybody seems a little strange to them, and so the more we can do to keep things in a natural environment gives them comfort," said Lindsay Carson, CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas.
Teachers and educators have worked around the clock to make things as normal as possible for their students. However, when it comes to young kids learning the basics, small things, like their teacher wearing a mask, make a big difference.
"They’re using our facial expressions to build context and understanding of our language and what we’re doing, which is what helps them to develop those early social-emotional skills. When our face is covered they lose all context," explained Carson.
On Saturday, 447 childcare providers in Pinellas County received essential PPE, like hand sanitizer and cloth face coverings. However, the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas wanted to take it a step further.
"We are giving out clear masks," said Carson. "So when [teachers] are working with children, of course, they’re protected. However, [the kids] can also see their faces."
It’s a game-changer. Not only for the teachers but for their students as well.
"We’re talking about preschoolers, babies, young children who need to see the expressions that the adults have so they can understand their environment and also see their mouth as they are saying and annunciating words," said Carson. "These children are developing their language skills, their speaking skills, so it’s really important."
After months of relying on someone’s eyes to determine their expressions, to see a smiling face still safely behind a mask is a welcome sight indeed.
"Together we can get through this and take care of our children," Carson said.
In total, 8,000 clear masks were handed out. The Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas also gave childcare teachers books to read to their students in celebration of Literacy Week.
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